DDA-style surveys and monitoring of unused land are needed if we are to have our smart cities
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) only recently discovering that it had undeveloped landholdings of nearly 7,000 acres offers some takeaways in urban planning for a country planning to have 100 smart cities. November last year, DDA completed its first-ever internal survey of unused land, with its engineers reporting the amount of undeveloped land in their jurisdictions.
Given some pieces of land were encroached upon and some under litigation, DDA has followed up the discovery with a few technology-enabled steps in monitoring and managing the holdings. It has uploaded the details of the land not encroached or under litigation on a cloud and its engineers have been given smartphones to transfer pictures of the land parcels in their jurisdictions on to this cloud. These photographs are to bear a geographical time-stamp and are to be updated from time to time to check for any illegal occupation. Satellite imagery of the land holdings is also planned to facilitate quick response in case of any encroachment. While all of this is commendable, it is also unfortunate that DDA functioned for so long without even a bare stock-taking. Many factors, from migration to urbanisation plans, are already putting immense demand-pressure on available land. So, perhaps, urban planning, especially for smart cities (Delhi is to get India’s first), needs more such surveys.